It is with great sadness that the Piper Creek Optimist Club of Red Deer says “Good-bye for now” to Gary Harris. Gary was our very first President. In 1985/86, he took the reins with a small group of strong men dedicated to raising money for Red Deer and Area youth and chartered our club.
His membership and leadership in our club are still appreciated. He was open to sharing his talents and helping out. Our warmest condolences go out to his wife Ruth and family.
We thank Gary for being such a passionate member of the Piper Creek Optimist Club of Red Deer over the years.
He will be remembered.
The Piper Creek Optimist Club of Red Deer
Here is an excerpt on Gary:
Gary attended Lindsay Thurber High School and became the first President of the Student Council. Gary graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Laws in 1978. He was then recruited by a highly respected law firm in Edmonton as a Student-at-Law and then went on to become Associate Lawyer at that same firm. The year before he graduated, with an approved leave of absence, Gary and his friend Larry Carr embarked on a backpacking trip around the world from 1976-77. It was a trip that held wonderful memories for Gary and he loved to tell stories to almost anyone he met.
Gary was a man of utmost honour and integrity in all that he did and was a significant contributor in helping to build the city we enjoy today. Gary served his City and Province with distinction through his involvement with numerous boards and committees. Gary’s expertise and willingness to serve allowed him to make major contributions to each of the Wildrose Foundation, the Westerner Board and the Red Deer Community Foundation, Piper Creek Optimist Club of Red Deer (Charter President)
Gary was active in his son’s activities; coaching hockey and soccer and serving as a volunteer director of the Red Deer Minor Hockey Association. Gary enjoyed camping with his family, skiing and cheering on the Red Deer Rebels as a long time season ticket holder.
In business, Gary successfully grew and expanded Westward Parts to include operations throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Gary always put his employees and customers first. He mentored many employees who saw him as a very caring, honest and supportive manager. At Gary’s direction, Westward Parts always gave back to the communities within which they operated supporting many community initiatives.
Gary served his industry as a valued director of the Canadian Farm and Industrial Equipment Institute and served his province as a Board member of the Alberta Farm Implement Board. Gary was a Director of Cervus LP and Collicutt Energy Services Ltd. He felt honoured to be selected by each of these companies which he held in high esteem.
Gary’s involvement in the planning and construction of the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre brought a world-class facility to the City of Red Deer for the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Gary was deeply vested with the project and, in addition to generous financial support, served on both the construction committee of the facility and on the donor and hosting committee. He also contributed to the Celebration Plaza downtown which also bears his name.
Gary and Ruth enjoyed travel and spending time together with friends at their home in Bucerias, Mexico.
Gary will be missed by his loving wife Ruth, his sons Steven and Paul (Alysha), his grandson, Grayson Wayne Harris “special boy”, Alysha’s children Isabelle and Tristan. He will also be sadly missed by his sister Orena Martin (Tom), brother Ryan and numerous nieces and nephews. Gary was predeceased by his mother Lena Harris and father Al Harris.
A Celebration of Life or Funeral will be held in the Gary W. Harris Games Centre on May 7, 2020 (Gary’s birthday) at 3 PM. In the spirit of Gary’s generosity, the family requests that in lieu of flowers you consider making a donation in his honour to a local charity of your choice.